The Zynster sprawled wide on the hard green bench, arms spread wide, legs stuck out into the pavement, pot-belly threatening to poke holes in the lowest hanging clouds. He was expecting Romain to join him this morning, but knew that the frost would mean he wouldn’t be out until the sun arced over the little plastic Asterix on his bedhead. In the meantime, the early risers in Lilliandale unwittingly played their parts in warming this old man’s heart. Michael (The Zynster) Polimoro sighed deeply from his soul as he watched the usual early morning procession of humanity pass by his vantage point in the central section of the main street. Runners plodding their way past in various states of exhaustion, school children in richly coloured uniforms dawdling by in dribs and drabs on their way to school, office workers in dull clothes, road workers in fluorescent jackets, mums with prams, and aged folk in walking frames, or for the lucky, mobile scooters. Each of them wafted life and vitality his way and he eagerly sniffed it up like the good, crisp country air he breathed. He was almost afraid to say it, but sitting on this bench each morning with good coffee, good friends beside him, and watching the world wake up, made him feel that, yes, life was good, life was very good, even for an old man like him. He sighed again and soaked up the morning this way until Romain finally emerged from his hibernation and sat beside him, handing him his morning Cafe Borgia.
“Asterix awake then?” he smirked.
Romain winced at him through bleary eyes, but said nothing.
The two sipped their coffees in silence for ten minutes.
A way off in the distance a flash of light from near the top of Lowenden Hill turned both of their heads. It was too far for their old eyes to see clearly, but it looked like a very large pizza was slowly making its way into town.
“What in heaven is that?” asked Romain gruffly, leaning forward to see more clearly.
The Zynster shrugged and took another sip of his beverage.
As it approached the two frail men began to make out legs beneath the pizza. There were ten of them. Eight very skinny and moving swiftly. Two, still skinny, but longer, one might even say slender.
“What has ten legs and a pizza on top?” smiled The Zynster.
“Are they dogs?” puzzled Romain, squinting up the hill.
“Hmmm.” The Zynster doubted it.
The pizza on legs drew nearer and finally took shape.
“It’s a woman leading two Afghan hounds!” declared Romain in triumph. He leaned back in his seat once again.
“What is that where her head should be then?” asked The Zynster, doubtfully.
Neither of them drank while the woman approached them on the other side of the street. She was a slender thing. Long, pale arms and legs and a white face punctured with a thin, bright red line of lipstick where her lips should have been. Two large, round, black orbs substituted for her eyes. She wore green and orange paisley print overalls, too voluminous for her thin frame, a dreadful, dancing fabric pizza bouncing bouyantly past them. On her head was an absolutely enormous straw sombrero, bobbing rhythmically in time with her gait. Two well groomed Afghan hounds preceded her, pulling just hard enough to both be choking on their collars.
“Look at that hat!” gasped the Zynster, “Where would you buy a hat that big?”
“Why is she wearing it in Autumn?” asked Romain with a puzzled expression.
They sat in silence and watched her huge sombrero flap lazily on her head as her dogs dragged her on into the heart of town.
“She looks like Paul McCartney’s daughter.” decided The Zynster.
Romain squinted uncertainly sideways toward The Zynster.
“Yep, she’s stellar alright!” nodded The Zynster.
Romain let it go.



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